Christopher Wylie
Uncanny resemblance? Left: Dade from the movie Hackers (1995) Right: Chris Wiley, Cambridge Analytica 'hacker' (2018)
By now I'm sure everyone has seen The Guardian's new RUSSIA-RUSSIA-RUSSIA piece entitled 'The Cambridge Analytica Files'. In it are the sordid details of how one then-24 year old computer programmer helped Steve Bannon - the most evil man in the world besides Putin and Trump - create a process to harvest Facebook data in order to build complex psychological profiles of the voting public, then used that information to manipulate voters, not only in the US but in the UK as well.

Informational Warfare, they called it, and while Information War is not new, the oldest reference being propaganda, today the methods have evolved. Guardian journalists Graham-Harrison and Cadwalladr did an especially good job of spinning the yarn; they even credited the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie as 'a master storyteller', which is of course what they are in fact doing via their article. Whether or not the story they tell is true, however, is certainly questionable.

When I saw the article the first thing that popped into my head was the 1995 classic Hackers starring Jimmy Lee Miller as Dade and Anglie Jolie in her debut film. She was so CUTE! The baby fat was still on her cheeks and I don't think she wore heels in the entire film. She also shoots a flare gun at a security guard in an act of utter female-badassery, but I digress.
Hackers Movie
Jolie the Hacker, before she joined the dark side and became Jolie the Warmonger
Hackers tells the story of a bad-kid-gone-good using his hacking powers in an attempt to stop a bigger, more evil foe. Ok, similar plot, but life sometimes imitates art, so maybe that's a fluke. Let's talk about the styling of these two individuals. First off, the hair is practically the same cut. Dade has a little more and Chris less, and it's pink, but heck, very similar. Outfits? Similar. Well, I'm stretching that, Chris is a bit more of an edge-lord with his pink hair, nose ring, and vegan diet, but the affinity for camo is there. I also can't help but think the whole production of his coming out has been scripted to the letter; look at all the production value in both The Guardian's article and the themed graphics they've produced for it and follow-up stories.
Guardian Cambridge Analytica
Top of The Guardian homepage, 21 Mar 2018
Listen to the 13 minute interview, it's clearly a very well-crafted story:

So what was it Wylie was actually doing at Bannon's old company?
"Wylie oversaw what may have been the first critical breach. Aged 24, while studying for a PhD in fashion trend forecasting, he came up with a plan to harvest the Facebook profiles of millions of people in the US, and to use their private and personal information to create sophisticated psychological and political profiles. And then target them with political ads designed to work on their particular psychological makeup."
ERMAGHAD! Targeted ads! My only weakness...

Seriously, that's the psychological warfare mind-f**k tool The Guardian is claiming we were all a victim of. You, dear reader, are easily manipulated by a targeted ad. That's pretty true, depending on your levels of agreeableness and neuroticism. The more agreeable you are, the more neurotic, the more likely you'll agree with a suggestion that will supposedly alleviate that negative emotion you're feeling. I'm rather not-agreeable, and my neuroticism is very low. I also didn't vote in 2016 - which fits. There are grains of truth in this story, and that's why I'm analyzing it.

The Guardian elsewhere describes Cambridge's info-gathering technique as follows:
"...personal information was taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters in order to target them with personalised political advertisements..."
Does that not describe every tech or advertizing company Facebook sells users' data to? It's right there in the Terms of Use! Everyone knows FB lets the highest bidder use whatever information we share on its platform. The only difference here is that CA used it to reach potential voters. Again, as does every such company hired by campaign managers! The difference is that CA and Team Trump didn't bother to tailor its targeted ads for mainstream media - they hit the motherlode by primarily doing it on social media. Then Team Clinton lost. And now, two years later, they're still raging about that loss. Which is why they're going after anyone who helped Trump win - in this case, Robert Mercer, the tycoon owner of CA.

The long article continues, speculating about where in time this story could begin:
"One is in 2012, when Wylie was 21 and working for the Liberal Democrats in the UK, then in government as junior coalition partners. His career trajectory has been, like most aspects of his life so far, extraordinary, preposterous, implausible."
Yeah, so, when something is implausible, that's usually because it happens rarely without some sort of outside help. Prepare for the donning of my tinfoil hat, but perhaps Wiley's trajectory was unlikely... because he had help along it? The Guardian continues:
"Wylie grew up in British Columbia and as a teenager he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. He left school at 16 without a single qualification. Yet at 17, he was working in the office of the leader of the Canadian opposition; at 18, he went to learn all things data from Obama's national director of targeting, which he then introduced to Canada for the Liberal party. At 19, he taught himself to code, and in 2010, age 20, he came to London to study law at the London School of Economics."
From high school dropout to working with the leader of the Canadian opposition party without even a preposition to explain the shift. That's a red flag, right there. Then he somehow got access to Obama's team. Wylie himself comments, "politics is like the mob, you never really leave," which suggests that his current move, his coming-out party if you will, is also a political move designed to have impact, similar to his previous work.

Granted, I don't like folks being manipulative. If Wylie's story is 100% true - and from what I can gather, a lot of the facts are - then huzzah for shedding light on unethical practices. My problem is that this story, and even this character, are a little too much. We'll have to see wait and see if this data makes a splash in the British or American legal system; whether or not this was illegal is certainly questionable. The socio-psychological impact it has on the culture, however, that is what will demonstrate its true value.

The tie-in to Russia comes later, so once you've bought the story about Chris Wylie and what he does, the shift to Russia-hate comes fast:
"There are other dramatic documents in Wylie's stash, including a pitch made by Cambridge Analytica to Lukoil, Russia's second biggest oil producer... Mueller's investigation traces the first stages of the Russian operation to disrupt the 2016 US election back to 2014, when the Russian state made what appears to be its first concerted efforts to harness the power of America's social media platforms, including Facebook. And it was in late summer of the same year that Cambridge Analytica presented the Russian oil company with an outline of its datasets, capabilities and methodology."
There's them evil Ruskies!
"Lukoil is a private company, but its CEO, Alekperov, answers to Putin, and it's been used as a vehicle of Russian influence in Europe and elsewhere - including in the Czech Republic, where in 2016 it was revealed that an adviser to the strongly pro-Russian Czech president was being paid by the company."
Russian influence! ERMAGHAD!

Having shunted Russia and Putin into their story, they have to cover their asses with this:
"There's no evidence that Cambridge Analytica ever did any work for Lukoil. What these documents show, though, is that in 2014 one of Russia's biggest companies was fully briefed on: Facebook, micro-targeting, data, election disruption."
In other words, the entire Russia digression was based completely on a few executives exchanging emails and a power-point presentation some of them may have seen.

This is the same old story that we've been fed for months-going-on years, just repackaged. The theme of an impressionable voting public being manipulated by some evil patriarchal conspiracy is readily apparent. Blame, scapegoating, and red herrings populate the terrain, making it nearly impossible to determine 'the truth' when it comes to current events and politics. Even recent history is difficult to get a handle on, everything from JFK's assassination to 9-11, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now Yemen... everything is shrouded in a thick coating of propaganda.

Whenever folks in the military or political apparatus want to cloak something from public scrutiny, they use the infamous term 'National Security', which is really just code for "if you knew what we were doing, you'd demand our heads." Similarly, if we want to discredit anyone, we can throw the old slur of 'conspiracy theorist'. There's actually a lot of evidence to suggest that the CIA actually coined the term, and loaded it with derogatory meaning, to use it as a weapon.

In much the same way, the mainstream media has lately been droning on and on about election tampering, Russian interference, Trump's dalliance with Ms Daniels - any story that can grab the public's attention and is both entertaining and utterly inconsequential. In that mileu, we have young Mr. Wylie making his debut album "I helped create Steve Bannon's mindf**k tool." While entertaining, it's nothing new, so pardon me if I'm a little skeptical.